On May 11, MMTC and 35 other national civil rights organizations, including the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), NAACP, National Urban League, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), filed an ex parte letter urging the FCC to take action to modernize the Lifeline Universal Service Program. The full letter and list of signators is below.
Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners:
RE: Lifeline Reform, WC Dockets 11-42 and 03-109
The 36 organizations set out below write on behalf of telecommunications consumers across America to call for the rapid and comprehensive reform of the Commission’s critically important Lifeline universal service program.
A bi-partisan effort is required to modernize this program so that millions of Americans can realize the full potential of the digital broadband age, and obtain this benefit in an efficient and effective program. At Stanford University’s Rebele Symposium on April 1, 2015, Commissioner Clyburn called the Internet the “great equalizer of our time,” accurately noting how society’s increasing dependence on the rapid exchange of information makes broadband connectivity essential for the average American to access education, employment opportunities, improved health care, civic engagement, family communications and a host of other services.
According to the Pew Research Center, today 70 percent of American adults have a broadband connection, and 90 percent with incomes of $100,000 or more have broadband at home. Yet disparities in broadband access by income still persist. Sixty-four percent of Americans with incomes of less than $30,000, 54 percent of citizens with incomes under $20,000, and 42 percent of those with incomes less than $10,000 have broadband service at home. Pew also reports that senior citizens typically have been the slowest adopters of home broadband; only 47 percent of U.S. adults age 65 and older have broadband at home.
A modernized Lifeline program aimed at making broadband more affordable and available for the nation’s low-income, older and less able consumers is a fundamental tool in the fight to break the cycle of poverty and connect the under-connected. [click to continue…]